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Conflict Theory By: Erin Lepird, Sicily Canny, Mago Saldana.

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1 Conflict Theory By: Erin Lepird, Sicily Canny, Mago Saldana

2 Conflict theory vs Marxism Conflict theory: power is the core of ALL social relationships Conflict theory: power is the core of ALL social relationships Marxism: much like conflict theory but power is gained through economics Marxism: much like conflict theory but power is gained through economics Characterized by an economic struggle between the haves and have-nots. Characterized by an economic struggle between the haves and have-nots.

3 Conflict Theory Alternative to functionalism Alternative to functionalism Macrosociological theoretical perspective Macrosociological theoretical perspective Resentment and hostility are constant elements of society Resentment and hostility are constant elements of society Power differences among social classes Power differences among social classes Special interest groups fight over scarce resources of society Special interest groups fight over scarce resources of society Interest groups fight to gain advantages over others Interest groups fight to gain advantages over others

4 Conflict Theory (Cont’d) Competition puts society off-balance until dominant group gains control and stability through power Competition puts society off-balance until dominant group gains control and stability through power

5 Influences Karl Marx ( ) Karl Marx ( ) Humanist: wanted all individuals to reach their full human potential Humanist: wanted all individuals to reach their full human potential Believed humans make their own history (historical method) Believed humans make their own history (historical method) Controlling material production  division of labor  formation of economic social classes  Class struggle Controlling material production  division of labor  formation of economic social classes  Class struggle Trying to combine material and ideal factors/ structural and cultural factors Trying to combine material and ideal factors/ structural and cultural factors

6 Marx (cont’d) Society was a two-class system: Society was a two-class system: 1. Bourgeoisie (owners of the means of production) 2. Proletariat (workers)

7 Marx (cont’d) Class differences have a lot to do with possession of personal property Class differences have a lot to do with possession of personal property Believed the exploited would become conscious and unite  communism  elimination of class struggle Believed the exploited would become conscious and unite  communism  elimination of class struggle Main ideas behind communism are stated in the communist manifesto Main ideas behind communism are stated in the communist manifesto

8 Max Weber ( ) Agreed with Marx (economics played a central role in power distinction). Agreed with Marx (economics played a central role in power distinction). Believed in Two other factors: Believed in Two other factors: 1. Social prestige (status) Example: someone could be poor and still hold a lot of power because of social prestige  Mother Theresa Example: someone could be poor and still hold a lot of power because of social prestige  Mother Theresa 2. Political influence Example: Politician who has great power, but does not earn a big salary Example: Politician who has great power, but does not earn a big salary

9 Max Weber (cont’d) Weber defined power as “the ability to impose one’s will on another, even when the other objects” (p. 72 CST) Weber defined power as “the ability to impose one’s will on another, even when the other objects” (p. 72 CST) Authority: legitimate power; used with consent of the ruled Authority: legitimate power; used with consent of the ruled Distribution of power and authority = basis of social conflict Distribution of power and authority = basis of social conflict HOWEVER: if subordinates believe in the authority= avoided conflict HOWEVER: if subordinates believe in the authority= avoided conflict If authority is not recognized as a legitimate= conflict If authority is not recognized as a legitimate= conflict

10 Max Weber (cont’d) People with power want to keep it People with power want to keep it People w/out power want to seek it People w/out power want to seek it 3 types of authority: 3 types of authority: 1. Rational-legal 2. Traditional 3. charismatic

11 Georg Simmel ( ) Wanted to develop a mathematics of society Wanted to develop a mathematics of society Collection of statements about human relationships and social behavior Collection of statements about human relationships and social behavior Disagreed with Marx that social classes are formed horizontally Disagreed with Marx that social classes are formed horizontally There are differences in power and opinions within each group. There are differences in power and opinions within each group.

12 Georg Simmel ( ) Concepts and contributions: Concepts and contributions: Rejects organic theory Rejects organic theory Saw society as the sum of individual interaction Saw society as the sum of individual interaction The most important relationship is between leaders and followers, superior and subordinates The most important relationship is between leaders and followers, superior and subordinates Superiordinate and subordinate have a reciprocal relationship Superiordinate and subordinate have a reciprocal relationship

13 Georg Simmel ( ) Believed social action always involves harmony and conflict, love and hatred (p.74) Believed social action always involves harmony and conflict, love and hatred (p.74) Secrecy: people who hold secrets are in a position of power. Secrecy: people who hold secrets are in a position of power. Some groups are formed around secrets and are known as secret societies Some groups are formed around secrets and are known as secret societies are usually in conflict with the greater society are usually in conflict with the greater society Initiation creates hierarchy Initiation creates hierarchy

14 Modern Conflict Theory Ideas of Marx, Weber, and Simmel resurfaced in America in the 1950’s through two German Sociologists: Ideas of Marx, Weber, and Simmel resurfaced in America in the 1950’s through two German Sociologists: 1. Lewis Coser 2. Ralph Dahrendorf

15 Lewis Coser ( ) Defined conflict as “a struggle over values and claims to scarce status, power and resources in which the aims of the opponents are to neutralize, injure, or eliminate their rivals.” Defined conflict as “a struggle over values and claims to scarce status, power and resources in which the aims of the opponents are to neutralize, injure, or eliminate their rivals.” Conflicts between intergroups and intragroups are part of social life Conflicts between intergroups and intragroups are part of social life

16 Lewis Coser ( ) Conflict is part of relationships and is not necessarily a sign of instability Conflict is part of relationships and is not necessarily a sign of instability Conflict serves several functions: Conflict serves several functions: 1. Leads to social change 2. Can stimulate innovation 3. During times of war threat, can increase central power

17 Lewis Coser ( ) Explored sixteen propositions of conflict through functions Explored sixteen propositions of conflict through functions Thought that conflict= boundaries between different groups  unity between individual members of that group and determines boundaries of power Thought that conflict= boundaries between different groups  unity between individual members of that group and determines boundaries of power

18 Ralf Dahrendorf (1929- ) Social order is maintained by force from the top Social order is maintained by force from the top Tension is constant Tension is constant Extreme social change can happen at any time Extreme social change can happen at any time “there cannot be conflict unless some degreee of consensus has already been established” (p. 89) “there cannot be conflict unless some degreee of consensus has already been established” (p. 89) Once reached, conflict temporarily disappears Once reached, conflict temporarily disappears

19 C. Wright Mills ( ) Work centered around power Work centered around power Several dimensions of inequality (like Weber) Several dimensions of inequality (like Weber) Power can be independent from economic class Power can be independent from economic class Version of conflict theory-closer to Weber’s than Marx Version of conflict theory-closer to Weber’s than Marx

20 C. Wright Mills ( ) Concept of power elite, rather than ruling class=difference between Marx and Mills Concept of power elite, rather than ruling class=difference between Marx and Mills There is a triangle of power: There is a triangle of power: 1. Military 2. Industry 3. Politics White-collar world kept power elite on top White-collar world kept power elite on top

21 C. Wright Mills ( ) There are three types of power: There are three types of power: 1. Authority: power justified by the beliefs of the voluntarily obedient 2. Manipulation: power wielded unknown to the powerless 3. Coercion: the “final” form of power, where the powerless are forced to obey the powerful

22 Randall Collins (1941- ) “power and status are fundamental relational dimensions at the micro level of social interaction and perhaps at the macro level as well” (p. 96) “power and status are fundamental relational dimensions at the micro level of social interaction and perhaps at the macro level as well” (p. 96) Collins believes there are certain goods that every group wants to pursue Collins believes there are certain goods that every group wants to pursue Wealth, power, and prestige Wealth, power, and prestige “Concluded that coercion and the ability to “force” others to behave a certain way are the primary basis of conflict” (p.96) “Concluded that coercion and the ability to “force” others to behave a certain way are the primary basis of conflict” (p.96)

23 Randall Collins (1941- ) Had a stratified approach to conflict that had 3 basic principles and 5 principles of conflict analysis Had a stratified approach to conflict that had 3 basic principles and 5 principles of conflict analysis Social Structure Individual actions

24 Relevancy Maintains that what social order does, is the result of power elites’ coercion of masses Maintains that what social order does, is the result of power elites’ coercion of masses Those without power seek social change Those without power seek social change Two class system by Marx Two class system by Marx Contemporary conflict theorists don’t limit power to just economics, but also look at other issues Contemporary conflict theorists don’t limit power to just economics, but also look at other issues

25 Relevancy (cont’d) Three criticisms of conflict theory: Three criticisms of conflict theory: 1. Ignores other ways (i.e. non-forceful ways in which people reach agreements 2. Sides with people who lack power 3. Focuses on economic factors as the sole issue for all conflict in society This primarily is for Marx’s approach This primarily is for Marx’s approach

26 Relevancy (cont’d) Differences in power are in all types of interaction Differences in power are in all types of interaction Power used to be physical, but now, it’s legal and economic Power used to be physical, but now, it’s legal and economic


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